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July 21st, 2009
07:02 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Tax Pot?

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

Tonight, voters in Oakland, California could take the battle over medical marijuana to a new level. Should it be taxed at city dispensaries? That's the question on a mail-in ballot.

If "Measure F" is approved, Oakland would become the first city in the country to tax pot directly. The idea actually came from the dispensaries. They see the proposed 1.8% tax as a way to help Oakland with its more than $80 million cash shortage. But there's another reason they're backing the measure. We'll have the details on their agenda. And, would the city even get a big cash boost from the plan? We'll break down the numbers for you.

Not everyone likes the idea. "With the state in dire straights in finances and the country looking for ways to pay down debt, looking at illegal drugs is the absolute wrong thing to do," said Paul Chabot of Coalition for a Drug Free California

What do you think of "Measure F"? Should it pass or fail? Sound off below.

Also tonight, Pres. Obama's fight for health care reform. He's not backing down under GOP opposition. Today at the White House, Mr. Obama said Republicans "who openly announce their intentions to block this reform" would "rather score political points" than confront the ailing health care system. But, keep in mind, Democrats also can't seem to agree on your coverage. We'll have the raw politics.

And, we'll take you to Cambridge, Massachusetts where charges have been dropped against Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates. Police have issued a statement calling his arrest - while breaking into his own home - regrettable. Was it racial profiling? We'll let you be the judge.

Join us for these stories and more starting at 10pm ET. See you then!


Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
soundoff (166 Responses)
  1. BOB NY

    tax it the people who want to smoke drink and smoke pot will pay taxes those who don't won't have to simple belive it or not usages amoung kids would drop not fun to do when its legal little less brain work a little more common sinse the world is not that complicated but congress will make you think that plus this tax could help pay for the health care plan

    July 22, 2009 at 7:34 am |
  2. Anais

    "Annie Kate, the USA has such a bad infant mortality rate since it uses the WHO legal definition of a birth while countries such as France do not count live births and several other birth abnormalities."

    Exactly. People harp on the infant mortality rate and life expectancy at birth and ignore the rest of the data. We have the highest cancer survival rate in the world! But let's stay away from statistics and just observe where people go when they have money (their own or charity's) and are really really sick. When some sick person abroad suffers a fatal oddity that requires a delicate yet intense and dangerous surgery that must be invented on the spot that come to the US. Our surgeons are apparently the ones who can figure how to pull off a new 8-12 hour surgery with a living patient at the end of the day, week, and year.

    The problem we face is with health insurance, health costs, spending, and efficiency. We need to find a way to curb prices while still providing incentives for great medical care.

    July 22, 2009 at 7:04 am |
  3. james

    Taxing pot is fine... We tax alcohol dont we? Pot is no better or no worse than drinking. If it brings in revenue for the state then why not?
    I think if they legalized marajuana then the goverment and states could tax it like cigarettes. That would bring in million and milions of dollars. I have never heard of someone beating their wife on a "marajuana high" or killing someone because they smoked a joint. The states could have tougher laws on driving under the influence and street sales.
    We tax cigarettes and they are proven to kill us and we have no problem with that, so why not tax something that doesnt kill us?

    This is a different day and age than 50 years ago, and sometimes we need to look harder at what works NOW, not then...
    thanks
    james from florida

    July 22, 2009 at 5:04 am |
  4. Ed Hubble Folom Ca.

    It`s about time,72 years ago it was banned and portrayed as the evil drug, when actually its a grown herb with medicinal values. California always leads the way. once again California will show America its benifits of marijuana for medicinal use,along with the 10 other states in the USA supporting the same issue. Don`t you think it`s time for everybody To Stand Up for your right,or hide in denial? Medicinalman

    July 22, 2009 at 4:49 am |
  5. Richard Phelps

    God Bless you Paul Chabot! I bet you pray every morning and night and attend church every Sunday too!

    God forbid that any drug should ever be legalized!

    We need to keep people that do drugs in prison regardless of that cost to society!

    And keep our police force well staffed to nab these folks and put them where they belong regardless of that cost to society either!

    Tolerance? No way dude! Do as I do or go to hell! And hey! Prison until you get there!

    If drugs are legalized, everyone will quit work and start doing them and our civilization will crumble and disappear!

    Polutants would stop entering the environment! All other species on the planet besides homo sapiens would begin to thrive again!

    God forbid!

    July 22, 2009 at 4:07 am |
  6. jorge

    I believe than american think that they are the champion of justice in the world and that is not true. In Argentina you don´t have more rights than an Argentinien citizen. If you are a delinquent or a criminal you go in jail, whatever be your nationality or your religion belief.

    July 22, 2009 at 3:10 am |
  7. J.V.Hodgson

    Oakland voters. If you are taking pot I suggest you vote Ok
    If you are not vote against.
    The Pharmacists are just seeing more profit from selling pot legally.. for me they are qell enough off already!
    Health care: Senator De Mint clearly set that off ( Obama's Waterloo") as being pure politics, along with an outfit clearly by political bias is against reform.
    I see a clear difference between Democrats who are fighting for realistic changes to the curren multiple bills and republicans who simply want status quo and no realistic counter ideas just the usual Politicking and nothing wrong with how its done now and completely ignore the medicare medicais disaster of deficit just waiting to happen... Short memories people and Media have.. this was unbalanced reporting ( wacky evaluation) for that reason.
    I just fail to see how any reasonable Police officer can possibly arrest anyone ( never mind race, colour of skin or creed) for " breaking into his own house". Attempted break in maybe/ All they needed to do was ask a neighbour is this the guy that lives here, or ask him for his Harvard ID, Driving license, and if he did not have those with him check his car Number plate and details over the radio.
    Ooops that real police work... easier to arrest him and book him.In my book these police officers need a severe reprimand and loss of pay for pure incompetence!!
    Regards,
    Hodgson.

    July 22, 2009 at 2:14 am |
  8. Jesse Cabello

    Marijuana is one of the safest drugs out there, compared to its legalized counterpart alcohol which kills plenty of Americans yearly both directly and indirectly. Legalizing and Tax marijuana is just common sense. Our federal government needs to stop making money off of the people by arresting them for possession. Man made beer and God made pot! God Bless America.

    July 22, 2009 at 2:09 am |
  9. greg jhounkin

    Hey Anderson if it was about race why is it, the officer didnt let mr. Gates go after he showed his I.D . Anderson it should have been over if it wasnt about race

    July 22, 2009 at 1:39 am |
  10. Ervin Raab

    Where the DEA should direct their attention is the DOCTORS who have become the drug pushers of the 21st Century. 7 time's more people die from drug overdose through prescription drugs than illegal drugs...so maybe we should fire the DEA for not doing their job.

    July 22, 2009 at 1:10 am |
  11. RLWellman

    Thousands of people die each year due to drinking and drunk driving. Who pays the benefits? The insurance companies.

    Thousands of people die each year due to lung cancer and COPD from smoking. Who pays the benefits. The insurance companies.

    People get picked up for drunk driving all the time, minors and adults alike. Who pays for the officers time. We do, the tax payers. The same ones who pay for the insurance policy increases.

    Now, you all want to legalize marijuana. This is just what we need. More people smoking and getting high, driving while stoned, and dying.

    July 22, 2009 at 1:01 am |
  12. drew

    about marijuana not being a drug, but a plant. Opium comes from a plant, as does cocaine. Hemlock is a plant, but will kill you if you ingest it.

    A drug does not have to be a human-made compound, a drug is anything that alters normal bodily function, whether it comes from a plant, animal, or a science lab.

    July 22, 2009 at 12:56 am |
  13. sean specht

    FYI, to those who are not aware, Medical Marijuana dispensaries already tax what they sell, and people still buy it there. The proposal is to add an extra, Marijuana specific tax.

    People buy it in "stores" because they don't like dealing with the criminals who sell it on the streets. I would imagine that It is also hard for people with ALS, AIDS, Glaucoma, or one of the many things that Medical Marijuana is used to treat, to find reliable drug dealers on the street.

    Furthermore, when one buys from a drug dealer, they have no guarantee that harmful pesticides were not used, that the product is not moldy, or of a bad quality. Medical Marijuana dispensaries also have a very wide selection of products, and a variety in each type of product.

    July 22, 2009 at 12:48 am |
  14. sean specht

    I can understand wanting a drug free California; those folks should continue to fight for what they believe in, but there are also people who believe that alcohol should be made illegal. With either situation, the fact that some want it banned should not stop the state from taxing it.

    Furthermore, as long as we are considering marijuana as a potential medication, we should treat it like other medications. Like several other medications, such as Vicodin, it is only legal to use when approved by a doctor, but like Vicodin, there are millions of people who use it illegally to get high; in fact, there are probably thousands, if not millions of people who obtain it legally, yet still take it for "recreational" use. Also like Cannabis, there are many people who buy Vicodin on the streets, solely to get high. The main difference is that Vicodin has a greater potential to harm the user.

    Among the many other similarities between Vicodin and Marijuana, there are many who feel that Vicodin should be made illegal altogether, but it is still legal to use under a doctor's orders. Do we tax Vicodin? I don't know, but that might be a guide to help us determine how to treat Marijuana.

    July 22, 2009 at 12:29 am |
  15. Pete

    While Paul Chabot makes the argument that the financially strapped state and country should be wary of turning to "illegal drugs" to pay down debt, he ignores the fact that the state of California has decriminalized marijuana; although according to federal law the drug is still illegal, by state law the drug is, in fact, legal to both sell and smoke in certain dispensaries. Given this, it seems prudent to tax its sale as a legal product.

    Arguments have also been made regarding its success on the legal market; why would anyone purchase an item that would come bundled with a tax when presented with an opportunity to purchase the same untaxed product? Ultimately, some wouldn't. Until the sale of marijuana is completely decriminalized under all state and federal law there will be an element of the population that will refuse assimilation and will continue to purchase it illegally; likely even after it has been legalized there will still be an underground market for marijuana. However, at the risk of generalizing the pot-smoking public, the vast majority of users simply wish to use the drug, not to break the law to purchase it. When presented with a legal alternative to back-alley deals that exist outside of existing law, I believe that many marijuana users would gladly pay an extra 1.8% to purchase a product that is a) legal, and b) guaranteed to be sold exactly as promised.

    July 22, 2009 at 12:28 am |
  16. Roger

    Taxing pot is just another way the pro-drug legalization groups are trying to legitimize overall drug use in America.

    Remember, teh pro pot folks pushed so called medical pot on California, then moved to try to tax it.

    America needs to put their foot down and hold the line and not let the illegal drug lobby harm our nation anymore.

    July 22, 2009 at 12:26 am |
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